All the Time that I Cried
by: lordess renegade
Character(s): CJ, Toby
Category(s): Song Fic/Romance
Disclaimer: Aaron Sorkin rocks my socks.† Iím Not Afraid belongs to the guys from Remy Zero.
Summary: A part of her wished she could fix it, fix him, but time had taught her that she couldnít.
Author's Note: Golden Hum series, story 9.
Tonight we can no longer fight
We could never return to it
Once we begin to see
Through the eyes up over heaven
Would you ever return to me
In the end?
It could have been one of those nights.
The offer was out there, and it hung between them all night, not awkwardly, just there in the space that separated them in that room of ridiculous lights and even more ridiculous politicians.† She watched him when he came back from the bar, and she knew that something had changed, something had been broken during the time he had spent in there, and a part of her wished she could fix it, fix him, but time had taught her that she couldnít.
So instead she watched, and she saw him leave early and knew that her offer had been rejected.† She tried not to let it hurt, but it did, just a little, because she knew he couldnít let himself need her.
She went home alone to her cold apartment and made a mental list of the reasons why she shouldnít just show up on his doorstep.† It wouldnít be the first time, not by a long shot, and lately she had been waking up more mornings in his arms than alone.† Sometimes he would be the one to knock on her door in the middle of the night, and when she opened it for him he always smelled like scotch and cigars, so now her sheets did too.
There had been one night when they had both gone out to drink in one of the seedy little bars near his apartment, and they had walked back in the rain while the lyrics to a Jimmy Buffett tune rolled around in her head, and she found herself singing under her breath about why didnít they get drunk and screw?† He had laughed at her and said that was exactly what they were doing, and it made her sad for a moment, because she was beginning to wonder if that was really all it was.
But it wasnít, because they were more than that, and it was days like this that reminded her of it.
They had sat there in his office with the shades drawn, and for a while there had only been silence.† Then he had begun to talk, and the words had spilled from him unwillingly as they huddled there on the couch with thin bars of light streaking across them cast by the sun setting through his blinds.† He had talked, and she had listened, and she was struck with a memory of the night they met, the two of them hiding in a darkened room whispering the stories of their lives to a complete stranger.† Somehow this was no different, even though they were no longer strangers, were now the furthest thing from it.
She hadnít had any words to comfort him, but he hadnít needed words, just her, and that she could provide.† So she sat there and he talked, and for the first time in many years she discovered that even after all this time there were still things to learn about him, and there probably always would be.†
They hadnít touched as they sat there, because physical comfort was not what he needed, but as she stood to leave he reached out to brush her hand with his, and she had seen his thanks unspoken in his eyes.
She cried when she got back to her office, because she had wanted to be strong for him.† She hadnít been able to stop those first tears from sliding down her cheeks, but after that she had held herself together, because she knew he needed her to.† But in the solace of her own office that still held the echoes of its former owner, she let the tears fall and she prayed, just for a moment.† It was something she hadnít done in a long time, but in that moment it felt right, and necessary.
Now it was late, and she sat awake because thoughts of him wouldnít let her sleep.
She wasnít quite startled by the knock on the door, because there was a part of her that had been expecting it.† She padded across the floor in her slippers and opened it so he could slip in past her.† As he did, she discovered that for the first time he didnít smell like scotch, or cigars, just him.
"You didnít tell me you were leaving," she said, and she hadnít meant it as an accusation, but it came out that way because he had stung her just a little by leaving without a word.
"You would have wanted to come with me," he replied, and it was true, so she let it go.† "I didnít want it to be one of those nights," he continued.† "I just...I needed..." he trailed off and shook his head as he brushed by her and settled down on one of her uncomfortable kitchen chairs.† "I donít know what I needed.† But it wasnít that.† It wasnít..." he paused.† "I think I needed you.† Not the you that I see on those nights when we conveniently forget that weíre two people with a present and a past and a million other things besides.† Thatís not you, not really.† I needed the Claudia Jean that showed up on my doorstep all those years ago with nothing but a suitcase and the memory of a night years before."
She perched uneasily on the edge of her counter and turned away from him because she didnít want to see the hurt on his face at her reply.† "Iím sorry to disappoint you, but Iím pretty sure that girl died a long time ago."
"You know, I thought so too, for a while.† I was beginning to think that this city, and this job, and maybe even myself in a way, had ruined her.† But you were there today, CJ,† I mean you, not the person youíve become, and I didnít want to just erase all that by making this another one of those nights."
She didnít answer him, because there seemed to be no answer, and she didnít know what he was looking for from her, didnít know if she could provide it even if she figured it out.† So she stayed silent and looked at him, searching his eyes for some kind of clarification, but there was none there, and when he started talking again, he turned his eyes from hers, unwilling to meet her gaze.
"I need to know that this life hasnít destroyed you, because when all this is over, I think youíre all Iíll have left."† He sighed and buried his head in his hands, and she knew that he was wishing that he could have written this instead of saying it, because words were his tools but also his enemy.† But when he lifted his head again and his eyes met hers, there was a meaning there that he couldnít find the words for, but that she understood.
She slid from the countertop and knelt by his side, taking his hands in hers and laying her head in his lap.† "Iím not going to leave you," she whispered, because thatís what this was about.† It was about David, and about Josh, and Sam and his father and Andi and everyone else who had disappeared from his life over the years, and as she felt his hands tangle in her hair and heard him gasp with a sudden sob, she knew that it was also about her, and about them together.
She whispered meaningless reassuring words to him as he cried for the second time this day, and this time she didnít feel the need to be strong for him, because it was just comforting to be weak together, so she cried with him.† When their tears subsided, they curled up together on her bed and held each other until he fell asleep, and she watched him and realized that she didnít have to worry anymore about her sheets smelling of cigars and scotch and him.
Because there would be no more mornings waking up alone anymore, so none of it mattered.
She held him close as their tears dried on their cheeks and wondered if this was what people meant by a happy ending.† Then she remembered that she had long ago decided that happy endings were overrated, so she drifted off to sleep with a smile on her face and chose to leave the fairytale romances to other people.
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